Growing Your Knowing
Bill Cottringer

“A huge part of life is to live, learn and leave a legacy of that living and learning.” ~The author.

To be able to leave this legacy of living and learning, you have to successfully navigate a roadmap of four levels of learning so you know what it is you have to do to bump up your knowing growing to the next level. All these four levels really help you answer this basic question better as you go: How do I know that what I think I know is really so, (for sure)? Clue: Never.

Success and happiness depends on getting the best and most complete answer to this question at each level of progression in growing your knowing. Here are the four levels of knowing growing:

• Information—is made up of truthful, useful facts that help you make choices and decisions on how to live and succeed in surviving the many tests, challenges and adversities life is continually confronting you with. Today, we are all on information overload with information doubling every two years. There is just too much of it and so it is easy to get lost in the details of everyday living and lose sight of the need to find a way to move up to the next level of growing your knowing to increase success and happiness.

To keep from getting lost in the mountains of information overload, you have to discipline yourself to learn when enough information is enough to stop looking and start making a reasonable choice or decision. This requires tuning into being more sensitive to knowing when the point of no return has come before it goes and whether you are approaching a moment of opportunity or danger, and even how your expectations and perceptions affect the outcome of your choices.

• Knowledge—is learning about how things work to get the best results, what you have to do to know these things, and what things are most important to know in your attempts to be happy and successful. Put another way, knowledge is information put together to get bigger results. Important things to learn at this stage are things like what you need to do to be a good student or employee, how to have a good personal relationship or have meaningful friendships, how to manage stress and relax, and how to know that optimism is more likely to lead you to being more successful and happier. This is where your personality develops into being your signature self.

You don’t really progress out of the knowledge stage any more than you do the one below, the wisdom stage. These are stages you revisit periodically to re-charge your knowing battery. This is because the biggest part of knowledge—relationships—are a road always under repair, always presenting different challenges and requiring new solutions.

Wisdom—involves finding and understanding principles that govern life. The object is to find the most important principles that matter most in helping you be happier and more successful. The most important group of principles to know are people principles. A good example is this: We all have a lot of similarities and yet many unique differences too and they both need to be accommodated to get the most out of us from a motivation and performance standpoint.

Another example of a useful people principle is that we all have a story to tell and there is certainly no shortage of telling, but there is a shortage of good listeners; being a good listener is probably the best way to grow your knowing of wisdom. The best way to grow your wisdom is to ask average people what the right questions are and smart people what the right answers are. This is where your character develops and you get closer to closing the gap between where you are and where you really want to be as your ideal self, intellectually, emotionally, socially, vocationally and spiritually.

• Awareness—is the absence of obsessing about your own mental agenda and letting go to freely attending to what is going on around you—seeing, listening, sensing and intuiting. This is the most difficult stage to get to in growing your knowing because it involves giving up what convinces you that what you know is definitely so (for sure)—your pride and ego, which has lead you to the success and happiness that got you here! This is also the place where you combine all the most important information, knowledge and wisdom you have learned to put it all together to open the door to knowing what you don’t know and what you really need to know to thrive in life.

This last stage of growing your knowing is where your soul matures in remembering what wisdom you were born with, but which unfortunately got drowned out from trying to survive the information overload and missing the knowledge stage on the way back to wisdom. The most impactful insight from awareness’ is that you really can’t prove the truth of anything and have to rely on a leap of faith in believing in the source, whether from the senses, some external authority you trust or your critical thinking. Of course, it become beneficial to know you can’t really prove the truth of anything, just disprove it’s untruth.

Growing your knowing requires an openness to exploring whatever stage of mental evolution you are at with an understanding that is probably another level up, at least until the last one of awareness, where you become aware that there is infinite space to learn, grow and improve laterally without a ceiling.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), and “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), and “Reality Repair Rx” and “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or